Author Archives: amoyaan

The Power of Storytelling and Mythology

Originally posted on The Dreamlight Fugitive:

Art by Josephine Wall

Stories have power. Whether in the form of a novel, short story, film, TV series–or even a video game–a good story story has the ability to transport us from our everyday reality to whole other worlds. By engaging our mind, imagination and senses, stories can bring us excitement and wonder, making us laugh and cry, feel, dream, love, hope and think. They have the power to encourage, motivate, educate and heal–and they can help us better understand and relate to others and this world we’re all a part of.

I’ve always been aware of the power of storytelling. I knew that I wanted to be a writer from the time I was 6 or 7 years old. I could often be a bit of a precocious and unsociable kid. While everyone else was out playing I would be sitting in my room, paper and pen in my hand, creating new worlds and characters and setting…

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Tao Te Ching 60: Frying a fish

image: stockvault

– 60 –

Governing a large country

is like frying a small fish.

You spoil it with too much poking.

~

Approach the universe with the Tao

and evil will have no power.

Not that it isn’t there,

but you will be able to step out of its way.

~

Give evil nothing to oppose

then virtue will return by itself.

~

Commentary

Lao Tzu begins this verse with a humorous but pertinent metaphor in which he again stresses that trying too hard to make things turn out right often causes more problems than it solves. So don’t poke your fish too much! One of the keys to living a Tao-based life is to relinquish our tendency to force things and to know when less is more.

This verse also speaks of evil. Another word for evil is ignorance. Ignorance is usually at the root of all acts of cruelty and harm and all too easily leads other undesirable states such as hatred, prejudice and self-righteousness.

To be centred in the Tao is to bring a shining light into the darkness. The darkness is then either transformed by the light, or repelled by it. Either way, Lao Tzu suggests that being centred in the Tao is the best solution for dealing with evil. It may not cease to exist, but it loses its power to harm.

taocoverfinalIf you have enjoyed this series on the Tao Te Ching, it is now available as a collected volume in both paperback and ebook format on Amazon.

Tao Te Ching 59: Moderation

image: stockvault

– 59 –

There is nothing better than moderation

for governing people and serving nature.

Moderation begins with giving up one’s own ideas.

For those who follow the Tao,

nothing is impossible.

If nothing is impossible, then there are no limits.

If a man knows no limits, he is fit to lead.

Tolerant like the sky,

all-pervading like the sunlight,

supple like a tree in the wind,

he has no destination in view

and makes use of anything

life happens to bring his way.

This is the way to be deeply rooted and

firmly planted in the Tao;

the secret of long life and lasting vision.

~

Commentary

Living in moderation, we can let go of our fixed ideas, notions and concepts, which only serve to limit us. Instead, we can seek and embrace that which is limitless within us. Only then can we be in tune with the Tao; allowing, as Joseph Campbell put it, the beat of our hearts to match the rhythm of life.

If you have enjoyed this series on the Tao Te Ching, it is now available as a collected volume in both paperback and ebook format on Amazon.

Tao Te Ching 58: Lead by example

image: stockvault

image: stockvault

– 58 –

If a country governed unobtrusively,

the people become comfortable and honest.

If a country is governed with repression,

the people become treacherous.

~

Try to make people happy,

and you lay the groundwork for misery.

Try to make people moral,

and you lay the groundwork for vice.
~

Bad fortune is what good fortune leans on;

good fortune is what bad fortune hides in.

Good things seem to change into bad,

and bad things often turn out for good.

These things have always been hard

to comprehend.

~

Thus the Sage is content

to serve as an example

and not to impose his will.

He carves without disfiguring;

he straightens without straining;

he illuminates without dazzling.

Commentary

Lao Tzu’s lessons on leadership can be somewhat challenging and may seem counter-intuitive. The key is to lead by allowing, to nurture without imposing and to trust that people will exhibit their innate virtue if they are allowed to do so. The most common objection to this is the fear that without adequate control and laws, bedlam would ensue and people would go about stealing, pillaging and killing. But is there anything to substantiate this notion?

All but the most dysfunctional have an innate sense of rightness—an inbuilt sense of dharma—that runs far deeper than any outwardly imposed codes of morality and conduct. Imposing such sanctions only indicates our deeply held misconception that our true nature is somehow lacking and deficient, that at we’re all ‘wretched sinners’ as some religions purport. But many mystics, philosophers, scientists and sociologists refute this and instead argue that mankind is inherently good. Human dysfunction stems not from our innate nature, but from obstructions of mind, conditioning and belief systems. Essentially the software is faulty, not the hardware!

The Tao teaches that the more we try to impose what we think others should do and how they should behave in terms of morality (which is a mind-made concept entirely dependent on culture and context), the more we stifle people and distance them from their true nature as spontaneous expressions of the Tao.

Lao Tzu suggests we allow people to figure out what is best for them instead of telling the what’s best for them. They probably will initially make mistakes. As a culture we’ve been driven by a great many erroneous notions for a long time, ignorant of our true nature and buying into the values of a dysfunctional consumer-driven society. But it is from our mistakes that we eventually learn.

‘Good fortune’ and ‘bad fortune’ are again but concepts in the mind and Lao Tzu reminds us that the two are indefinable and inseparable. Good fortune often comes from disaster and misfortune, while often the most seemingly fortuitous things contain the seeds of misfortune within them. All the threads of life, both good and bad, are connected in an infinitesimal number of ways, interwoven to make up the perfect tapestry of life.

The closing lines of this verse state that the best way to govern is to lead by example rather by than imposing our will. This encapsulates the essence of the Tao Te Ching’s teaching on leadership, which, as noted before, is relevant to anyone in any position of power or authority, from those in government to CEOs, school teachers and parents. We are urged to lead gently but with vision, to resist the urge to impose or control unnecessarily, and to illuminate without dazzling. The key is to encourage others to find their own inner light, by which they can in time lead themselves.

If you have enjoyed this series on the Tao Te Ching, it is now available as a collected volume in both paperback and ebook format on Amazon.

The Process For Dissolving Mental Projections: Steps 3 & 4

Cartoon by Anne Derenne http://adene-editorialcartoon.blogspot.com/

Cartoon by Anne Derenne

This article continues my Jailbreak Your Mind series, which will form the basis of a self help book currently in the works. This follows on directly from the previous post.

The four step process for dissolving mental projections is:

1. Identify the projection

2. Reduce the subjective to the objective

3. Take any appropriate physical action

4. Change the thought

The last post explored the first two steps, which are the key. This entry will deal with the latter two.

Take any appropriate physical action

The final two steps are the optional ‘clean-up’, that may or may not be necessary. If it’s a ‘physical’ problem (ie., not simply a product of my thinking), then the next step is to objectively determine what I need to do to tackle it. If I have a headache, I take a painkiller. If I’m tired, I go lie down. If I’m feeling stressed or overburdened, I seek ways to reduce my load by delegating or ditching what I don’t really need to do.

Recognise the issue and, if need be, brainstorm ways that you can deal with it. Put your problem-solving skills to good use. See it as a challenge and recognise that, whatever the issue, you have or can access or develop all the resources you need in order to deal with it. This may involve asking other people for help, or developing certain skills or resources. There is a solution to any challenge we might face in life.

Let’s go back to our examples. The first one was ‘I am depressed at my lack of success in life’. When I stripped away my subjective interpretation I realised that the reality of the situation was that I was making judgements about my life. Because my life hadn’t conformed to my idea of what I think it should be, I was suffering. It wasn’t actually ‘my life’ that was causing me to suffer, it was the thoughts I was thinking about it; my story about it. Simply realising this may have been enough to end the problem. Perhaps now I recognise that life isn’t designed to match up to what we think it should be, and it never will! Perhaps I can accept this and learn to enjoy the upside of life and take things as they come. Or perhaps I can identify some areas where I can make some improvement and decide to commit to that. Maybe I could get more education, or change my job, or start a business. There’s nothing to stop me.

Take the issue you’re working with, keep it at the objective level, and see if there is any physical action you want or need to take. There may be some action you need to take or you may find that, like the travelling monk, the issue completely disappeared when you realised the nature of your superimposition: i.e., there was never a snake there to begin with, therefore there’s nothing to be done about it!

Objective Issue: My boss has been making unreasonable demands
Objective ways to deal with it: Schedule a meeting. Share my concerns. Ask for greater support. If appropriate, work on improving my skills, time-management, etc. Or maybe look for another, better job.

Objective Issue: I am single and would like to be in a relationship
Objective ways to deal with it: Start dating again. Be clear on what I am looking for. Build my confidence and self esteem.

Objective Issue: I have been making judgements about my body
Objective ways to deal with it: Learn to love myself and my body. Learn to take care of my body. See and appreciate the very best about myself. Practise loving self-massage. Eat well and do some fun exercise to feel good

Change the thought

So we’ve reduced the subjective to the objective, stripping away our mental story and reducing the object, situation or circumstance to its own status. This has either made us realise that there is no problem at all; it was simply a problem in our imagination, or, if there was a physical component to the problem, it enabled us to take a clearer and more objective look at how we ought to proceed.

That may be all that we need to do. Our brave traveller didn’t need to fend off that snake at the well or run for his life. All he needed to do was leave his subjective reality and come back in touch with objective reality and realise that the snake had no existence other than a thought, a misperception in his mind—and poof, the ‘snake’ disappeared, never to return.

Given that most problems start off on the level of mind, that’s where they will be resolved. Very often the final step is to change the problem by changing our thought about it. If the problem is our mental story, then we need to rewrite that story.

Again, objective reality is neutral in itself. Shakespeare summed it up perfectly in Hamlet:

“Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

We project interpretations on reality and those interpretations are based upon our experience, conditioning, likes, dislikes, desires, fears and beliefs. Again, if those interpretations are working for you—which is to say, you are going through life in a relatively peaceful, happy, satisfied state, then you are welcome and advised to hold onto those interpretations. You need only question them when they begin causing suffering and dysfunction for you and those around you.

Emotional pain is a sign that your thoughts and interpretations aren’t working for you; that there’s a core conflict that must be resolved. In this way, negative emotions are actually a positive thing. Pain is a mechanism designed to alert us to a problem, to action that needs to be taken on some level. Physical pain is dealt with on the level of the physical. If you burn yourself, the pain immediately alerts you to remove yourself from the source of heat.

Emotional pain is dealt with on the level of mind. When it’s not legitimate, clean pain, it’s a sign that there’s a problem on the level of our thinking, interpretations and projections. That’s where the  problem lies and that’s where the problem will be solved. The great problem in our culture is that we simply aren’t raised with the tools we need to be able to navigate this inner world; the world of our thoughts and feelings and the immense cause and effect relationship between them.

I’ve run the risk of repeating myself ad nauseum as I’ve run over this process, but it’s necessary to continually hammer this home until it ‘clicks’. Because when it does, our relationship with reality changes forever. What we’ve learned to do is to strip away the mental story we’ve imposed on reality. We’ve essentially deconstructed our interpretation of reality. This is not something we need to do just once in order to be free. It needs to become a habit. We need to continually keep pulling ourselves out of our illusory subjective realm and back to objective reality time and time again, until it becomes second nature, an instant reflex.

rethinkeverythingAs we’ve seen, the subjective realm is not a direct, accurate representation of reality. It’s an indirect, conditioned and distorted reflection of empirical reality. Deconstructing our story enables us to see that our original issue was either an illusory problem that didn’t really exist, or was an issue that did have some physical component but which was most likely exacerbated or distorted by the mind. The way to clear things up for good is to change things on the level of thought. This involves a process called reframing. If it’s your story that’s been causing the problem, and it very often is, then it’s time to rewrite that story!

This is a simple process—although, again, simple doesn’t necessarily mean easy. It may take some time and practise to master the art of reframing.

Take the original subjective interpretation that was causing the problem for you. Firstly, recognise that it is just an interpretation and usually one that was made quite unconsciously, based upon the mind’s habitual tendency to process reality a certain way. Recognise that it was only one of many different interpretations you could have made regarding the issue or situation. Take a moment to consider what other, more positive interpretations you might give the same issue. How might you reframe the situation in a more positive light? In what ways might this situation actually be a good thing?

Let’s use one of our original examples. How might “I’m depressed at my lack of success in life” be reframed? In step two we already deconstructed this thought by seeing that the real problem was my notion that life should match up to what my mind thinks it should be. A mature, objective mind knows that life simply doesn’t work like that! Getting depressed because life isn’t giving me what I want is actually a rather childish state of mind (and yet it is the source of so much of our suffering).

Reducing it to the objective level, I realise that my life is a certain way and I am creating an inner resistance to that. In step three I realised that I can take action to change things on a physical level. I might want to do that, or I might by now have realised that the real problem was the way I was choosing to interpret my life situation. So in this step, having realised the problem was my largely just interpretation, my story, I now have the opportunity to change things on the level of thought. The moment we change the way we look at things, our entire experience changes—an alchemical process that happens from the inside out.

I’m going to reevaluate the thought “I’m depressed because of my lack of success in life”. That interpretation, the notion that I’m not successful and that my life is a mess, is the root of my problem and it’s causing a great deal of suffering. What if I instead decided to see things in a more constructive light? What if I changed it to: “life is giving me new challenges and opportunities to grow and change”. This is instantly more empowering, and it’s just as true, if not more true, than my original interpretation. I’m no longer wallowing in self-pity and judging myself and life as harshly. This new thought, this rewritten story, is motivating and encouraging. Rather than feeling depressed and deflated, I’m much more likely to be at peace and even excited at the opportunities I have to play with my circumstances and to explore different possibilities.

It’s all in the way we choose to look at things. Again, it bears repeating; any form of mind-created emotional stress or suffering is a sign that we are thinking low quality thoughts. What we’ve been doing is telling ourselves horror stories about ourselves and our lives, or stories on a par with the classic Greek tragedies—and then wondering why we’re feeling anxious, stressed and emotionally beaten!

The mind works like a computer. The input will determine the output; and so will the software we’re running. If there are glitches in our programming, this will distort everything and create one big, buggy mess that’s prone to malfunction and crashing. It doesn’t have to be that way. If our mind is giving us problems, this is simply a sign that we need to learn how to use it better and more efficiently.

That’s what the next part of this series will focus on: going deeper into how the mind works and how we can shift negative thoughts, beliefs and painful emotions. You might want to take some time to reflect on these essays and learn the master the 4 step process for dissolving projections before moving on. This is one of the foundational practises for jailbreaking the mind. It should be done over and over until it becomes a habitual response to life. Whenever things are getting on top of us, we need to quickly shift out of the subjective and reduce it back to the objective. For there lies our true point of power and stability. We are coming back to reality and back to ourselves.

The Process For Dissolving Mental Projections: Steps 1 & 2

This article continues my Jailbreak Your Mind series, which will form the basis of a self help book currently in the works. This follows on from the previous entries in the series:  The problem of sufferingA mind at warA revolutionary new understanding of experience and realityThe 3 Levels of Reality and the Walls of our Mental Prison and The experience equation. Together these articles form an extremely useful and practical resource and tool for understanding and overcoming psychological suffering, consistent with the insights of both modern psychology and the ancient wisdom of Vedanta. To fully benefit from the following piece, check out at least the previous two entries, which lead directly into it.

mind-tricks

The 4 step process for dissolving your projections

This couldn’t be simpler, and if you can master this you may not even need to read the rest of this series. You’ll be set for life! Simple doesn’t always mean easy, however, for the mind can be incredibly stubborn and conservative in its tendencies.

Here’s how to dismantle and reconstruct our thoughts and interpretations of reality. Remember, by changing the thought (the story we’re telling ourselves about the experience), we automatically change the experience. Simple though this sounds, it really does work.

The four step process is as follows:

1. Identify the projection

2. Reduce the subjective to the objective

3. Take any appropriate physical action

4. Change the thought

The first two steps are the real key, and the final two are the tidy-up that may or may not be necessary afterward. Let’s take each step in turn and learn how to apply this understanding.

Identify the projection

First of all, we don’t need to dismantle every single thought, projection and interpretation. That would take forever. It’s the nature of the mind to take the neutral objective reality and assign it meaning and interpretation. This is part of the mechanism by which we navigate life. If your meanings and interpretations are working for you, then there’s no problem. If your subjective experience of reality is a rich and happy one, all is well and good and you have no need to change it.

The problems arise when our projections are limiting and/or negative in nature; which is to say that they are causing us to suffer. Painful emotions arise from thinking thoughts that are out of harmony with reality.

Recall our earlier differentiation of clean and dirty pain. Clean pain is unavoidable in life, but is self-correcting—it naturally resolves itself and we move on, returning to balance and psychological harmony. Dirty pain is when our thoughts keep us bound in a mental prison of our own inadvertent making.

They say that awareness is half the battle and that is very true. The first step to resolving this psychological suffering is to pinpoint it. Let your suffering lead the way. Hone in on an area of your life in which you are experiencing some kind of lack, dissatisfaction, anxiety or stress. Do that right now, come up with something that has been causing you some kind of pain and write it down somewhere.

I’m going to include some examples:

I’m depressed at my lack of success in life

My boss is a jerk

I’m single and feel no one will ever love me

I hate the way that I look

Reduce the subjective to the objective

The next step is to strip out all meaning, interpretation and value you have placed upon the situation and consider it as objectively as you can.

This is where the magic happens, and it happens in the blink of an eye. Recognise where you have been projecting or superimposing your unconscious likes and dislikes, and reduce the object, situation or circumstance to its own empirical status. The cake is no longer ‘delicious cake’, it is just ‘cake’.

What we’re doing here is seeing the situation objectively, free of the filter of the mental story we have created around it. Instead of “Sally is a nasty cow and she always has it in for me,” which is clearly a subjective interpretation, a mind-made story…we see that the reality of the situation, on an objective level, is simply “Sally said something that I didn’t like”.

This immediately strips the situation of the story we have crafted around it. The reality is always much simpler and easier to deal with than the story we’ve concocted about it. At the objective level Sally simply said something. At the subjective level, which has been the root of our suffering here, Sally has said something unacceptable and is a terrible person determined to make our lives a misery.

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The stories we tell ourselves can be immensely horrific. We craft bleak and extremely immersive tales of woe. It’s most likely not just Sally we have a problem with, but perhaps all women, or all men, or all human beings. Or perhaps the main problem we have is with ourselves. We may continually tell ourselves that we are a pathetic loser, a lowly little worm incapable of achieving anything in life. A significant number of people lose themselves in such terrible mental stories, getting sucked into horrific subjective worlds quite divorced from the value-neutral objective world. These mental prisons tend to self-perpetuate; the more we tell ourselves the same old stories, the stronger the thought-based prison bars become. All the while we’re spiralling further and further from the simplicity of vyavaharika, the empirical reality. Stripping the projection or story from a situation, reducing the subjective to the objective, immediately frees us from our mind-made prisons. We start to see things as they actually are and only then does reality become much easier to deal with.

This may pose a challenge if we have a lot of emotional energy invested in our projections. We may have spent so much time getting worked up about a certain predicament that it can be hard to set aside the psychological projection and strip out all meaning we have invested it with. Recall that objective reality is in itself value neutral—it only has the value that we assign it. We need to recognise where we have been adding or subtracting value or meaning to the situation—and consciously see it as it is rather than as we think it is. 

The situation that has been causing us so much suffering can and will be interpreted differently by other people. What may have been the source of much consternation will simply be a non-issue for someone else. Which is, of course, a sure sign that projections are at work.

For a moment, let’s adopt the attitude of Star Trek’s Mr Spock.

Mr_SpockSet aside your emotional response and be dispassionate and logical in your analysis of the situation. Label your original issue under ‘subjective reality’ and then analyse it from the level of ‘objective reality’.

Here are our examples:

Subjective Reality: I’m depressed at my lack of success in life
Objective Reality:  My life hasn’t matched up to my idea of what I think it should be

Subjective Reality: My boss is a jerk
Objective Reality: My boss has been making unreasonable demands

Subjective Reality: I’m single and feel no one will ever love me
Objective Reality: I am single and would like to be in a relationship

Subjective Reality: I hate the way that I look
Objective Reality: I have been making judgements about my body

You might already notice that, by stepping out of the subjective level and coming back down to the empirical level, things are already simpler, more manageable and the emotional sting is greatly diminished—if not gone altogether. How did the weary traveller in our earlier story get rid of the snake that had scared him witless? He simply realised that it wasn’t a snake at all. Objectively, it was only ever a piece of rope. With this knowledge, the snake vanished in an instant!

Reality is always far simpler than the stories we weave about it in our mind. Even if you feel that life is complex and you always have a hundred and one things to do, you only ever have one thing to do—and that’s the task immediately in front of you. Whether you’re raising kids or running a multi-national corporation, in spite of the seeming complexity of life, the present moment is always reasonably simple. Wherever you are, there you are, and whatever you are doing is all you that need to be doing. When I start to think about the immensity of writing a book and all the blood, sweat and tears that go with it, I realise that I’ve got lost in the subjective realm of thought. I then pull myself back to the objective present moment, in which I am simply sitting in a chair, typing on my computer, one key at a time. Anything more than that is veering into the realm of story.

Any time you are starting to feel stressed or overwhelmed it’s a sure sign that you need to burst the thought bubble and come back to objective reality. This is the essence of Zen, which emphasises the art of simply being where you are and putting your full attention on that. It frees up an immense amount of energy and dissolves stress and psychological tension like nothing else.

Reducing the subjective to the objective immediately bursts our mind bubble. Our projections, definitions, superimpositions and filtering thoughts dissipate and we see things as they are, as opposed to how we think they are. Things become so much easier to deal with that way! Life is infinitely easier when we let go of our stories and simply deal with what’s in front of us. It’s our stories that keep our mind prisoner and the moment we let go of those stories is the moment we turn the key and open the door to freedom.

When we are able to view a situation objectively, we realise one of two things. Firstly, we may see that the situation in question wasn’t actually a problem at all, we were just making it into a problem by perceiving it as such. Or we may realise that there is still a problem that needs dealt with, and, free of our mental catastrophising, we now feel better equipped to deal with it.

The important thing here is to question whether the issue is actually a problem at all. If it’s just a problem because of the way I’ve been choosing to look at it, then when I change the way I look at it, it ceases to be a problem (see the next step). The problem was one of subjectivity, and by reducing the subjective to the objective, I have instantly dissolved the problem. Way to go! The only thing I then need do is be sure that my old thinking patterns don’t drag me back into the mud again.

Or perhaps it is a genuine, physical problem and I need to take some action to correct it. Making this distinction enables me to move onto the next step.

(To be continued)

Tao Te Ching 57: Relinquish Control

lettinggo1

– 57 –

In order to be a great leader,

you must first learn to follow the Tao.

War may be won with exceptional moves,

but loyalty is only won by not-doing.

Relinquish control

and the world will govern itself.

~

How do I know this is so?

Because in this world,

the greater the prohibitions,

the less virtuous people will be.

~

The more advanced the weapons of state,

the less secure people will be.

The more laws are posted,

the more thieves appear.

Therefore the Sage says:

I do not try to control

and the people transform themselves.

~

I embrace quietude

and the people settle into their regular grooves.

I do not meddle in people’s lives

and they grow prosperous.

I let go of all desire

and the people return become serene.

Commentary

In this section of the Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu returns his attention to the art of leadership, exploring a means of governing that is in harmony with the Tao. It would certainly be advantageous if our leaders paid heed to this ancient wisdom, for much of the time our countries are governed with precisely the opposite approach.

Leadership aligned with the Tao is characterised by noninterference, equanimity and an absence of grasping and obsessive control. It’s abundantly clear that the more rigid and authoritarian the state, the more dysfunctional, disharmonious and unsustainable it is.

The greatest governor of all is nature, and nature effortlessly reflects the innate harmony and balance of the Tao. It flows without effort, without the need to control or unduly shape its constituent parts. Everything functions as per its nature. There’s no struggling, forcing or striving, and no need to cling to concepts or impose rules; for when everything is allowed to be as it is, it all tends to flow in harmony, governing itself.


taocoverfinal
If you have enjoyed this series on the Tao Te Ching, it is now available as a collected volume in both paperback and ebook format on Amazon.

The publishing industry is imploding

Originally posted on The Dreamlight Fugitive:

digital-self-publishing

(Things I wish I’d known about writing from the start, Part 2)

We live in a world in which change is rife, entropy is king and civilisations and species are faced with a stark choice: evolve or die. The 21st century has thus far been a time of immense change and unsettling insecurity. Technology is advancing at an incredible rate and a global economic downturn has created a whole new set of challenges and struggles. Few industries have been unaffected by the widespread societal changes taking place, and the publishing industry is no exception. I deliberately chose a provocative title for this blog and I stand by it. The past ten years have seen perhaps the biggest challenges to the publishing industry since its inception.

When I was growing up I had a slightly romanticised notion of what it was to be a published author, although it did have some basis in…

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Tao Te Ching 56: The Virtue of Silence

colors-of-silence

– 56 –

Those who know do not talk.

Those who talk do not know.

~

Stop talking,

block off your senses,

meditate in silence,

release your worries,

blunt your sharpness,

untie your knots,

soften your glare,

harmonise your inner light

and unite the world into one whole!

This is the primal union or secret embrace.

~

One who knows this secret

is not moved by attachment or aversion,

swayed by profit or loss,

nor touched by honour or disgrace.

Such a one is far beyond the cares of men

yet comes to hold the dearest place in their hearts.

This, therefore, is the highest state of man.

Commentary

This verse begins with one of my favourite lines of the Tao Te Ching: “Those who know do not talk. Those who talk do not know.”

The loudest and most confident ‘authorities’ are often the most deluded because they tend to be rigid, set in their viewpoints and ignorant of their ignorance. Those that genuinely get it are often the quietest and humblest of people. They have no need to make a show of themselves, for they have moved beyond such cares. They know the virtue of silence.

Although the Tao is within and sustains all form as its deepest essence, it cannot be seen with the outer senses and is invisible to the eye. Therefore, it is necessary to go inward to get in touch with this essence.

Lao Tzu speaks of primal union or the secret embrace, which can be achieved by sitting quietly in meditation, closing off the outer senses and settling into a peaceful experience of inner union with our source. It’s not something we can strive after and seek to acquire as we would in the outer world of form, but something we relax into with effortless ease. It melts away our tensions, dissolves our problems and unties all our knots.

This primal union is the gateway to an experience of higher consciousness, which we can then invite into every aspect of our lives; a detachment and transcendence, an overwhelming and unconditional love and acceptance of life and all the beings and circumstances we encounter. This is, as Lao Tzu suggests, the highest state available to us.

Perhaps this is the only worthy goal we can ever have for our lives. The ironic part is that it’s not a future state we can hope to achieve and move toward. We’re already there—we’re already at one with the Tao—we just have to remove the obstructions of mind and habit and realise that we already are that which we seek. It could never be any other way.

If you have enjoyed this series on the Tao Te Ching, it is now available in a collected volume in both paperback and ebook format on Amazon! Be sure to check it out.

Why Books Have Become Devalued

Originally posted on The Dreamlight Fugitive:

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These are interesting yet precarious times for fiction writers. Although the digital revolution has given authors an unprecedented opportunity to share their work, it has come at a price.

The landscape has changed almost beyond recognition. It’s much easier to ‘be’ a writer now. Anyone and their uncle can churn out a book and have it published on Amazon Kindle that afternoon. In spite of this, it’s actually much harder to ‘make it’ as a writer, due to complete over-saturation of the market. Something in the range of 4,000 books are being published every single day. Competition can be a good thing, but it also has its downside. What happens when a market is oversaturated? The product in question inevitably becomes devalued, and so does the supplier of that product.

I believe the devaluing of fiction started off with supermarkets and online stores such as Amazon artificially slashing the prices of books. Publishers were in many cases willing to make…

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